This year our school only has 2 homerooms of 5th grade students. This made it very easy for me to split the boys and girls and teach my guidance classes separately, allowing me to teach gender specific lessons. This proved to be an interesting adventure!
I thought teaching the boys and girls separately would be very effective, because in 5th grade the students seem to need different lessons. For example, bullying looks very different with the girls than it does with the boys. They are also managing peer pressure differently and dealing with much different problems. Below are some lessons that I chose to teach with my boys and girls.
I used The Weird Series including the books Tough!, Weird!, and Dare! by Erin Frankel. While I think this series would be helpful for both boys and girls, it was fantastic to read and discuss in an all girls class. They are very interesting stories that the girls can really relate to. The hip, cool illustrations really capture their attention.
My favorite lesson was using the book, Dare, where the students learn about how to handle peer pressure when someone is trying to get them to bully someone and the importance of being a helpful bystander to help the victim when they are getting bullied. We read and discussed the book using the notes and discussion questions in the back of the book. Then, I showed the PERFECT video clip showing an example of a group of girls who have to decide whether or not they are going to go along with the crowd to bully someone or stand up to the bully by accepting the person being picked on for who they are. It is a clip from the Dateline episode: My Kids Wouldn’t Do That: Bullying. This clip shows how easy it is to join in verbal bullying when others around you are doing it. I KNOW this is a reality for many 5th graders, and it was an eye opener for many of them. We were able to discuss how important it is to step in a “squash” the bullying by being nice to the victim and taking up for them. You definitely need to watch this video clip and share it in your classes!
My favorite lesson I did with the boys is my Peer Pressure with Super Bowl Commercial Lesson found here. They were totally engaged since we were watching funny commercials, and they learned a valuable lesson on how peers will try to get them to do things they know are not right and ways they can refuse the peer pressure.
Another lesson I did with the boys group that was very successful was on character traits and how students want to present themselves going to the middle school next year to both their peers and teachers to make a good first impression. First, I read the guys an excerpt (pgs. 42-46) from the book A Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. This chapter is all about Dwight, and we learn a lot about his different character traits, both good and bad. Then, I used parts of the lesson plan found here by Lyne Farrell Stover to talk to the boys about what character traits they should be looking for in new friends as they go to the middle school and what traits they should be displaying to others so that they can make positive friendships. Click here for the PDF Lesson Plan. It is a wonderful resource!
Positives of dividing the girls and boys
- Lessons are more specific and relevant to the problems they are facing
- Students are more comfortable sharing and participating
- Students are more honest and open in their discussions
Negatives of dividing the girls and boys
- Behavior is harder to manage with the all boys class
- Scheduling it could be difficult
- Takes more time planning different lessons